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bustion are weighed, we find that its weight has not diminished, but increased,
because during this process it has attracted also elements of the air. The
elements of wood (carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) have remained; they are
indestructible; only the form in which they appeared has past away. Evaported
water retakes, if condensed by cold, its original form. The quantity of matter
in the Universe remains always equally great, and can neither be augmented nor
diminished.

What is the result of this view ?

That the change between dissolution and origin, between decay and renova-
tion of matter, is infinite.

2. Matter is infinite both in its infinitesimal and largest parts. In the
hundredth part of a water-drop we discover through the microscope yet a
world of creatures (infusoria), the intrinsic organization of which we don't
know. The smallest particle of salt, the existence of which we can hardly
guess by taste, contains thousands of millions of particles which no human eye
will ever see. In the ethereal space of the Universe there are seen whitish,
nebular spots, which, observed through the telescope, are resolved into a multi-
tude of stars. Though light passes in a minute a distance of two millions of
geographic miles, it requires 2,000 years to go from the galaxy on earth. There-
fore, it is rather certain that the space of the Universe and its matter are infinite.

"What view can be deduced from the stated qualities of matter ?

This view, that also matter is eternal, namely, that it has not originated in
time. To be sure, the eternity of matter cannot be comprehended ; but from
nothing, nothing arises ; therefore it is more sensible to suppose that matter has
always been in existence than that it has originated by creation from nothing.
This was, long ago, the view of several ancient philosophers. Physical science,
too, holds that matter is eternal and imperishable, because experience so far has
never proved the origin or annihilation of the smallest particle of matter. (2.)
If a God created the Universe, then, there must have been a time when he com-
menced to create. Back of this time, what was this God doing ? He spent an
eternity, so to speak, in perfect idleness !

What do they call the hypothesis that matter and force are closely joined ?

Realism, Monism or Materialism.

Why do they call it Realism ?

Because the Realist considers nature and all its phenomena as they really
exist. (3.)

Why Monism ?

Because, according to this supposition, matter and force form only one object
(the monon). (4.)

Why Materialism?

Because Force is inseparable from Matter. (5.)



Are the precepts of Morals abolished, or endangered by Realism ? (Materi-
alism) ?

No, for they rest upon the unchangeable nature of man. (6.) (Cf. 2. Sect.
Morals, § 2.)

§ 3. The Universe— Uniformity and Necessity of the
Natural Laws.

What is the Universe ?

The tenor of all what exists.

What is the nature of the laws by which the Universe is governed ?

They are uniform and unchangeable. E. g., for all celestial bodies the same
laws are valid: the law of gravity, the law, of centripetal force, the law of
impenetrability of their matter, of the effect which light and heat has on them, etc.

Are there exceptions to the natural laws ?

According to experience, there are no exceptions to them ; they are strictly
necessary; e.g., every stone falls according to the same law of gravitation;
every seed-grain is developed in the same way ; lightning is always attracted by
metals, etc.

What follows from the fact that the laws of nature are invariable ?

It follows that miracles are impossible.

Why are miracles impossible ?

Because they are exceptions to the natural laws. " No arm grasping out of
the clouds can raise mountains, transpose oceans; feed man, etc. All phenomena
of naUire are stamped by stern necessity." (7.)

How is the conservation of the Universe effected ?

It is effected through the same forces of nature, and according to the same
laws, as in the past. " One common, lawful, therefore eternal tie, clasps round
the whole, living nature,'' says Alex. Humboldt.

What's the meaning of the term, •' Special Providence ?"

It means that God for the benefit of some men suspends a natural law; e. g.,
if by a compassionate rich man he suddenly furnishes bread to a poor man, who
is almost dying by starvation.

Is there such a Providence conspicuous in life ?

No, experience refutes the belief in it. E. g., if two solid bodies clash
violently together, both are shaken, according to the general law of velocity.
Therefore, if two locomotives moved by steam, going in opposite directions on
the same road, are propelled, swift as lightning, and then strike each other, the
cars, hitched to them, must be crushed, and the passengers in them injured,
without any distinction whether they be sinners or saints. The tempest works
according to the same law, and consequently by its violence destroys entire fleets
which are sailing on the sea. (8.)

May, then, man, while in distress, hope for wonderful help of God?

No ; he must exert his own faculties, he must endeavor to help himself. A
proverb says : Help yourself, and God will help you.



How, then, must the progress of men be considered, when they implore God
to piolong their life, to grant them good health, their livelihood, good crops,
victoiy, virtue, etc. ?

Their prayers are useless and unreasonable, because they ask God to suspend
the universal, everlasting laws of nature.

§ 4. The Starry Heavens.

What bodies do we perceive in the celestial space ?

The stars.

How are the stars divided ?

In fixed stars, planets, moons and comets.

What are fixed stars ?

Stars which shine with their own light. They can easily be distinguished
from the planets by their tremulous light. However, the light of some planets
is also scintillant, e. g., the light of Venus and Mercury. (9.)

What is the origin of the name " fixed stars " ?

The ancients believed that these stars are, as it were, fixed to their places, and
never change them. But since, it is known that they also are moving, as in the
case of the Pleiades (the Great Wagon, or the Great Bear), which have since
2,000 years changed their position towards the nearer, smaller stars, more than
5,000 miles. (10.) By far the most stars are fixed ones. About 6,000 of them
are visible to the naked eye. The galaxy (the milky way, as it is called,) is
quite crowded with them. W. Hershel believed that by means of his large
telescope, eighteen millions could be seen in it.

What are planets ?

Planets are stars which turn around a fixed star, and receive their light from it.

What are moons ?

Moons (secondaiy, concomitant planets) are stars which turn around a planet,
and with it around a sun.

What are comets ?

They are shining, celestial bodies, which consist of a nebulous, luminous
nucleus, and a bright, capillary tail. Many of them come also forth without a
tail. There are many comets. Their tails are millions of miles long. Their
orbit is irregular, and sometimes crosses even that of the planets, (ii.) So far
their nature is little known ; there are about 200, the orbit of which has been
computed ; only 14 of them are known more particularly.

What is the sun ?

It is the fixed strir around which our earth with many other planets revolves ;
it forms with them our solar system, which advances towards a certain point of
the firmament. (12.)

What is the theory called, by which the sun is supposed to be the center
around which the planets are revolving ?

It is called the Copernican, from its author, Nicholas Copernicus (1553).



What opinion was held before his time ?

The opinion that the earth was resting, and was the centre of movement of
the sun and of the planets.

Which two forces cause the planets' to turn around the sun ?

The centripetal and the centrifugal force. (13.) By dint of the former, the
bodies which fall to the earth are attracted to its centre ; by the latter, they move
on a plane always in a straight direction, when they are once put in motion, and
when there is no obstacle on their route.

But what line does a body describe in its fall, if obliquely thrown into the air ?

It then describes a curve.

What effect would these two forces take, if each would alone determine the
course of the planets ?

The attractive power of the sun alone would drive the planets directly to the
centre of this fixed star, and their own centrifugal force would keep them continu-
ally in the course they have taken at the first impulse.

How is their course shaped, since both forces act simultaneously on them ?

Elliptically.

How many planets of our solar system are already discovered ?

Eight larger and more than 100 smaller ones.

What are the names of the planets which are accompanied by moons?

The earth, with one moon ; Jupiter, with 4; Saturn, with 8 ; Uranus, with 6
moons ; Neptune has at least one moon.

Which are the two largest planets ?

Jupiter and Saturn ; their diameters are ten times as large as that of the
earth ; but the diameter of the sun surpasses the diameter of those two planets
also ten times in length. (14.) The mean diameter of the earth is 7,912 miles.

WHiat planets are nearer to the sun than the earth ? Which is the most
distant from it ?

Mercury and Venus are nearer to it, Neptune is the farthest distant ; therefore
the light of the first is the brightest, that of the latter the weakest. The light of
Mercuiy is six times more intense than that of earth; 4:)utthatof Neptune is only
the hnndreth part as intense as that of the latter.

In what ratio is the volume of the sun to that of the earth ?

More than a million of terrestrial globes could be made out of the sun. But
its matter is only one-fourth as solid as that of earth. The sun turns in 25^
days around its axis. Its light requires 8 minutes and 17 seconds to pass from it
to earth.

How great is the distance of several stars from earth ?

Almost immeasurable, for their light must travel 30 millions of years, before it
reaches our earth, (cf. § 2.)

What hypothesis have the most natural philosophers and astronomers accepted
with regard to the matter of the solar-system ?

They suppose that the matter of the solar-system was, before immemorial time,



123

dispersed in the celestial space, and that according to 'the law of gravitation, it
was more and more condensed, and by-and-by developed from the nebulous into
a gaseous, and from this into a solid state.

§ 5. The Earth and Its Gradual Transformation. (15-)

How is the origin of the earth explained ?

The most eminent natural philosophers of the time suppose that the earth, too,
like the other planets, has been developed from gaseous matter ; during the pro-
cess of its formation it evolved heat, and became a fiery fluid, which by degrees
passed into a solid state. Its uppermost layers first grew cool and solid.

To what degree must, according to this hypothesis, its surface have cooled,
before the gaseous vapor could be transformed into water ?

As far as to 212 degrees, Fahr.

Has the earth, since it has started in existence, grown a thoroughly solid
body ?

Probably not; there is a belief that towards its centre it continues to be in a
condition of fiery fluid ; for the deeper they penetrate into its crust, the higher in
crease the degrees of the inner heat.

What more justifies this opinion ?

The hot vapor and water springs of earth, the volcanoes and earthquakes,
which often shake large tracts of land and sea.

What do they conclude from the great number of extinct volcanoes?

That once the inner fire of earth has reached still nearer to its surface.

How deep have they, thus far, penetrated into the inside of earth ?

About two geographical (equals 9.2 Engl.) miles.

How thick is the crust of the earth ?

Only about fifty geographical (equals 230,5 English) miles (according to the
statement of the geographer Ch. Ritter).

In what way did earth continually gain dry land ?

1. By volcanoes. They vomit ashes, sand, lava and rocks. So, by their re-
peated eruptions, new tracts of land are gradually formed,

2. By earthquakes, by their concussions sometimes new islandiand mounts are
brought to appearance.

3. By brooks, rivers and torrents. Namely, in water always earth, mud, sand
and stones sink to the ground. Brooks, rivers, torrents convey and put them
down partly on their banks, partly at their mouths. Thereby the banks of rivers
grow higher, and at the mouth of large streams new tracts of land are formed,
sometimes in the shape of triangles (deltas), like the delta of the Ganges, Mis-
sissippi, Nile, Rhone and Po. The Po delta has during 2,000 years grown twenty
miles in width. By the depositions of the Nile, opposite to the island of Pharos
(at Alexandria) the sea has entirely disappeared, and the island forms now part
of the continent. Likewise, the ancient lake Mareotis in Egypt hos been laid
dry by the mud of the Nile, Rapid wood-brooks carry rocks and large bulks of



124

stones down into the vall&ys, and build up there hills and mounts. In a similar
way the downs and sandbanks of the ocean are originated.

4. By many species of the smallest animals. To these the corals (a species of
thepolyps) belong, being only of the size of a pin-head ; their bodies represent only
a big, which on the outside forms the skin, on the inside the stomach, and have
many arms, by which they catch their food. One polyp commences every coral-
stem at the bottom of the sea. Many animals on which it feeds have calcareous
shells, and it is lime which it abundantly casts off. It forms a little knot, on the
top of which it is seated ; this grows into a twig, a stalk ; out of the mouth of
the mother-polyp, new animalcules are developed ; the stem grows
stronger, and is not much dissimilar to a leafless shrub. By degrees the oldes t
parts die, and the descendants are building higher up, until they reach the surface
of the sea, which puts a limit to their growth. These animals defy the waves of
the ocean which are too powerless to hurt their life. They belong to the oldest
inhabitants of earth. The lime of the Jura mouniains is mostly formed from
corals. In the Indian, in the Pacific ocean and in other seas they have built in-
numerable islands and riffs ; and entire chains of mountains owe their existence
to them.

Moreover, there are muscle-like mfusoria, the shells of which by the naked eye
can hardly or not at all be noticed, and are composed either of lime or flint.
The mountains of all zones contain these petrified ; e. g., Paris, together with the
surrounding towns and villages, Berlin, Richmond in Virginia, the Pyramids of
Egypt are built with their shells ; even in Victoria Land (in the Antarctic Ocean)
they have been found. There are already 2,000 species of them known. Even
in the undermost of the known layers of earth, they are frequently extant ;
neither fire nor water, nor the pressure of whole mountains, could do them any
harm. They have a larger share than any other creature in the formation of
earth. (Cf. § 7, 2, 6.)

§6. The Earth's Mountains— Periods of Its Transformation. (i6.)

Which forces gave rise to the mountains of the earth ?

Water and fire. The formations caused by the force of water, are called
Neptunian. They are very extensive on the earth, and appear lor the most part
in horizontal layers.

Does experience confirm this mode of their origin ?

Yes, for even now-a-days the oceans, lakes and rivers are forming continually
new layers of earth and stone.

What species of stones do the Neptunian mountains contain ?

Sandstone, flint, limestone, clay-slate, etc.

What do they call those Neptunian formations of earth which did not
originate till in more recent time ?

They call them, usually, Alluvial-land. Examples of this formation are the
large deltas of Nile an3 Mississippi, which these rivers have formed at their mouth.



What mountains ca-re by the power of fire into existence?

The Volcanic, the Plutonic, atid the Neptune- Plutonic.

How did the Volcanic mountains originate ?

By the inner fire of earth, which worked near or on its surface. Specimens
of volcanoes are ALtna and Vesuvius in Europe, and Cotopaxi and Popocotapetl
in Mexico. Volcanoes are spread all over the earth, though they be not as
numerous as in times of yore.

How did the Plutonic mountains originate?

Also by subterraneous fire, but this worked in a very profound depth of the
earth ; there the solid parts of earth were melted, changed into lava and slowly
cooled. These mountains lie also horizontally, still not above, but below the
Neptunian mountains. Sometimes they were pushed through the crust of the
earth, and very highly elevated, as, e. g., the summits of the Andes, of which
Chiviborasso is 2I,OCO, Sorata 2I,200, and Anancagua 23,900 feet high.

From what species of stones are the Plutonic mountains composed ?

Fr«m the hardest, e. g., granite and porphyry.

How is the origin of the Neptune- Pltitonic mountains explained ?

Their ingredients were probably by the water tloated over layers of rock, and
in later times crystalized by fire, hot water or steam ?

What species 0I minerals do they contain ?

Gneiss, the red sandstone, extensive layers of coal, etc.

What are Plutonic mountains frequently called ?

Primary mountains ?

Why ?

Because the geologists formerly believed that these, with regard to their
origin, are the oldest kind of rocks on earth.

Is this assumption correct ?

No, tor though they form mostly the lowest layers, still part of them is, with
regard to time, more recent than the three other kinds of mountains All kinds
of mountains have originated partly at the same time, and partly in different
times. The innei parts of earth were often changed. The actual position of
the mountains was not their original, but it was in different times different.

How did they formerly explain the origin of the Neptunian mountains ?

Some believed that in the beginning the whole earth had been submerged by
water, until the Creator separated them. Others asserted that the great deluge
(mentioned in the Bible) formed those mountains during earth's universal inun-
dation.

Can their opinion be proved to be true ?

No ! There is no good historical proof of their opinions, and experience,
too, contradicts them. For in both cases they ought to admit that there was
once a much greater bulk of water in the oceans than at present; then the ques-
tion would arise, how the water could subside to its present low level, as we see



126

it everywhere ; a question which the defenders of these opinions cannot answer,
(Cf. Bibl. Narrat. 1—4.)

How do the best naturalists of our time explain the origin of the Neptunian
land?

Layer by layer was formed at the bottom of the oceans and lakes, and by the
alluvions of rivers. By and by such land was raised above the ocean by the
inner forces of earth, principally by fire, as it is still going on in many places, e.
g., on the shores of Bothnic Bay, and in the southern parts of Patagonia.

What proves the correctness of this explanation ?

The great number of petrified animals, especially of shells and fish which were
found by digging into these mountains. They occur frequently in the Pyrenees,
Alps, Cordilleras, and Himalaya mountains, even on places as high as 8,000 —
18,000 feet. Is it possible that the sea has ever reached such an elevated
ground ?

What do they conclude from these observations ?

That the sea has not sunk, but the land has been raised. '

Into how many periods does Geology divide the time of the gradual trans-
formation of earth ?

Into five; these are called : Primary, secondary, tertiary, diluvial, and alluvial
periods. The older section of the diluvial period is also called the glacial time.

In what condition was earth's surface during the glacial period ?

A coherent mass of ice, beginning on the North pole, covered the northern and
middle part of Asia, Europe and America; in Europe it seems to have extended
towards the Alps. From the South pole, too, the ice-cover enveloped a great
deal of the Southern hemisphere. Only a small zone remained between the
two sections of ice for organic life.

What country informs us of that period?

The Northeastern part of Germany ; for tnere are still left numberless huge
rocks (boulders), belonging exactly to the same species as the mountains
in the Scandinavian peninsula, and which must have been floated from these
to Germany during the ice-period ; probably they formed part of those swimming
mountains of ice which had been torn from the glaciers of that peninsula,
and were carried by the waves of the sea to Germany. (18.)

§ 7. The Age of the Earth.

What facts impart information to us, with regard to the age of earth ?

1. The evolution process of the earth. Until the earth, originally ignited,
could cool from 2,000 to 200 degrees of heat, indeed millions of years must have
passed away.

2. The age of the different mountains and of their fossils.

(a.) Neptunian (Tertiary) mountains. Three thousand shells, found in
Neptunian mountains, have been compared with five thousand species of present



127

time. In the lowest layers of the ground ihere were 3^ per cent, of the shells
like those in the present time, 17 per cent, in the middle ones, 35 — 50 per cent,
in the still higher ones, and 90 — 95 per cent, in the most recent ones. How many
thousands of years may have elapsed between these formations ? According to
the computation of the most skillful geologist, 350,000 years. (17.)

(b.) Mountains of lime and chalk. Next below the Tertiary mountains lie
the groups of the mountains of lime and chalk. They are partly built up from
the petrified shells of little animals. The Suabian Alp owes its origin to the claws
of crabs. Such a layer at Bilin (in Bohemia), extends through a large tract of
land, and is fourteen feet thick. It supplies what they call polishing slate
(tripoli), which is used to polish metals. It is mostly composed of petrified
animalcules, and contains 41,000 millions of their shells in every cubic inch.
(18.) Their corpuscles were bedded in small, round granules, which were like
raspberries formed in balls, and represented pretty houses with many chambers.
These animalcules have built in all zones entire chains of mountains. The
chalk mountains in England, Ireland, France, in the middle part of Europe and
Asia, which together comprise an area as large as that of Europe, owe to
them their existence. What number of them, and what length of time wer(>
necessary, till so many mountain chains were constructed. Between the forma-
tions of the lime rocks and those of the Tertiary period may as many thousands
of years have elapsed as between the construction of the Tertiary mountains and
those of the present time. (19.)

(c.) Coal strata. They have originated by floods, which accumulated masses
of trees and plants, and covered them with sand and clay ; by and by these
minerals hardened into slate, upon which new masses ot organic matter was de-
posited. (20.) This process was repeated by nature several times, until coal
mountains of surprising length and height were formed. They say that their
formation has taken a million of years.

(d.) Plutonic and Primary mountains. In these no remains of animals are
found, whereby we may conclude that, in general, they are still older than the
other rock formations.

3. The structures of the corals (polyps). A learned geologist, James D.
Dana, conjectures that they build one-eighth of an inch of their structures in one
year. Now, there are some coral-reefs 2,000 feet high, the iormation of which,
therefore (computed ^ inch a year), required 192,000 years. Since the body of

these polyps is only as large as a drop of water, and since an infinite number of
islands, reefs, and rocks (of the mainland which some day was covered with
water) is their work; the age of their creation can hardly be computed. (21.)

4. Discoveries in the valley of Nile. When in the Nile delta borings
were attempted, they found in a depth of 60 — 70 feet tools and pieces of pottery.
They have computed, how many inches the alluvium of land in the delta is in-
creasing during 100 years, and the result of the calculation was that it rises 2^
inch or (according to the computation of others) 3^^ '* or 5." According to



128

these different suppositions the increase of 60 — 70 in depth would have taken
about 33,000, or 24,000, or 16,100 years. Beside, it is known that, since there
men have made their appearance, the alhivium has increased 2CO feet high ;


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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 22 of 28)